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Tuesday, June 25, 2024



Roy Orbison's lyrics often reflect the spirit of America. In his song "Walk On," he could easily be describing the T20 World Cup taking place in the US. The tournament has arrived in a location that seems unfamiliar and hard to find, with minimal signs that it is happening. Unlike countries with a robust cricket culture, this place seems to marginalize the sport.

In New York, the Cricket World Cup goes largely unnoticed. There are no indications at airports, on subways, or even on the Long Island Rail Road, which takes you near—but not directly—to the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium. Situated in a location that heavily relies on cars, reaching the stadium requires a considerable walk from the nearest public transportation drop-off point.

In spite of the logistical hurdles, the highly anticipated cricket event in the United States is capturing some interest. The match between India and Pakistan in New York has completely filled two stadiums—the main venue and the Met Stadium fan park. Despite this achievement, the larger challenge of promoting a new sport in a city filled with various entertainment choices remains hidden.

There was quite a buzz surrounding the fan park at the World Trade Centre, where people gathered to watch the first match from Dallas. The tournament kicked off with a match between the USA and Canada, echoing the historic first international cricket match between these two nations in the 19th century. Yuvraj Singh, the ICC ambassador, drew a large crowd at the fan park as he honoured the victims of 9/11 and engaged in playful banter about his Punjabi friends in the teams. However, only a few remained to witness the cricket match.

Meanwhile, the opening match in Dallas presented a contrasting scene. The city seemed to have little interest in cricket, as even Uber drivers were oblivious to the event, and billboards were promoting soccer matches instead. The Grand Prairie Stadium, with a capacity of 7,000 seats, did not reach full attendance for the USA-Canada game, which is raising concerns among the tournament's organisers.

Thunderstorms and logistical issues exacerbated the difficulties in Dallas. Severe weather conditions wreaked havoc on the surroundings, resulting in a messy media area. Initial reports indicated a full-capacity event, but later, USA Cricket members exclusively received discounted tickets, causing additional complications with ticketing.

Regardless of these challenges, it is important to acknowledge that promoting cricket in America is a worthwhile pursuit. The ICC's efforts to expand the reach of the sport deserve recognition, despite encountering some scepticism. Attracting the 4.5 million-strong South Asian diaspora in the US to stadiums can be quite a challenge, given the wide distribution of fans across the country.

Dallas, known for its vibrant cricket community, showcases this particular challenge. There are a significant number of club matches played on a weekly basis, which highlights the considerable local enthusiasm for the sport. However, it continues to be a challenge to fill a 7,000-seat stadium.

For those who choose to go, the facilities are absolutely top-of-the-line. The Grand Prairie Stadium has received high praise from players for its exceptional conditions and top-notch amenities, establishing it as the perfect venue for the highly anticipated World Cup opener. However, its creation does not guarantee its arrival.

Ultimately, the T20 World Cup in the US is a daring venture. There are several obstacles to overcome, ranging from practical considerations to promotional difficulties. However, the fact that this tournament is taking place in America shows that cricket has the potential to expand beyond its usual boundaries. There is optimism that the thrill will intensify as the tournament unfolds, and cricket will establish itself in a country with countless entertainment options.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]

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Kevin Rademeyer


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